The animation is passable, particularly during Jimbo’s flashback on how he came to be an overweight recluse and throughout the martial arts scenes.
2.5/5 from the critics
Paws of Fury: The Hank Story of Legend Ika Chu, a wicked senior official in a feudal Japanese feline kingdom, wishes to erase the village of Kakamucho from existence so that his palace will appear beautiful for the shogun’s (Commander-in-Chief) visit. When Ika Chu sends his bandits to execute the job and the village’s samurai escapes, the locals demand that the shogun appoint a new defender. Ika Chu appoints Hank, a dog prisoner, as the next samurai in order to force the locals to flee. Hank, who has aspirations of one day becoming a samurai, must persuade the opposing cats to cooperate in addition to rescuing the town.
Puppies of Fury: The Story of Hank Review: The plot of the animated comedy adventure is based on Mel Brooks’ 1974 Western comedy Blazing Saddles, while the film’s name is taken from Bruce Lee’s Fist of Fury. Instead of the Old West, a Japanese feline land is a scene, and a cunning cat named Ika Chu (Ricky Gervais) seeks to eradicate the underdeveloped village of Kakamucho in order to impress the visiting shogun (Mel Brooks) with his flawless mansion. His grand plan is to send forth bandits to drive the locals away while cleaning up the area with a massive jade toilet (yep!). The samurai runs away to protect his life as the thugs encircle the village. Ika Chu is given a tormented and helpless prisoner dog named Hank (Michael Cera), who has aspirations of becoming a warrior, by the shogun as his new protector.
The issue is this. The cats in Kakamucho terrorize the unfortunate dog because they despise canines “because it seems natural.” But Hank perseveres and convinces Jimbo, a cat-nip addict samurai who has failed, to train him (Samuel L Jackson). What happens next involves Hank’s training, gaining the cats’ trust, a disagreement between the teacher and student, and if the dog is able to save Kakamucho.
The movie, which is loosely based on Blazing Saddles, has a dull and uninspired storyline. You’ll be immediately reminded of Kung Fu Panda, but without sincere humor. Ika Chu is wrongly referred to as Pikachu, horses have GPS or Giddy-up Positioning System, and working/walking the dog means striking the dog with a wok are just a few of the forced humor in this animated comic adventure. The movie’s attempts to break the fourth wall, self-refer to, and make references to other pop culture media make everything seem more forced. Jimbo comments on the kitten Emiko (Kylie Kuioka), “The sweetness is strong with this one,” and Ika Chu wants to enlist studio executives and serial killers (like Jason Voorhees from Friday the 13th) in his army. The creators nearly appear to have been aware of the clichés but chose to laugh at their own expense.
The lead actors, Cera and Jackson, are lovely. Ricky Gervais shines out as the villain, Ika Chu, with his caustic tone and haughtiness. A type of tribute is paid by casting Mel Brooks as the aging shogun. The toilet humor, which includes a gigantic toilet, cats flatulating, pranksters altering the signboard from pop to poop, etc., is a little over the top.
The animation is passable, particularly during Jimbo’s flashback on how he came to be an overweight recluse and throughout the martial arts scenes. The movie will be enjoyable for young children, and they might even giggle at the slapstick humor, but adults won’t miss anything if they skip it.